Calgary’s new Roman Catholic Bishop, William T McGrattan, said Monday he is prepared to stand his ground, even if his views turn out to be unpopular.
McGrattan spoke to reporters ahead of his official installation as bishop of the Calgary diocese Monday night at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
He comes from the diocese of Peterborough, Ont., to take over for Bishop Fred Henry who resigned in January for medical reasons.
McGrattan addressed a number of controversial topics, including human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations in schools.
His predecessor had faced backlash for his staunch opposition to the vaccine in Calgary Catholic schools. In 2012, the board overturned a long-standing policy that kept the HPV vaccine out of its schools, despite opposition from Bishop Henry.
“He’s a very bold bishop in terms of his statements and I’m sure that he has created controversy,” Bishop McGrattan said.
“I think he wants to be provocative, he wants to allow people to understand the truth that might be at state in some of these social issues.”
McGrattan added the HPV vaccine could help promote “unhealthy choices” among some young people, without the “proper guidance from their family or their parents.”
The bishop was also asked about the Alberta government’s newly introduced transgender guidelines, adding the church respects “who the human person is.”
“We have to be sensitive to individuals who may have this dysphoria – and I use the word as a clinical term – a sense of confusion. And we need to be understanding of that and helpful to the point of trying to respect their dignity and what they are experiencing in this present state.”
McGrattan said he plans to take the pulse of the community before finalizing any decisions and says those decisions will not be made lightly.
The bishop added he has no plans to rescind a recent rule banning school councils from collecting money from casino revenues, however he is willing to delve into the history behind that decision.
The Calgary Catholic school system banned the use of casino revenue in 2007 after Bishop Fred Henry declared gambling immoral.
McGrattan will oversee more than 400,000 Catholics across 69 parishes and 10 missions throughout southern Alberta.